Task Cards: 6 Reasons to Love Them and a How-To-Guide

As teachers look for more ways to differentiate, they always stumble upon task cards and wonder how can I use these?  What extra stationary materials do I need?  Will they actually help my students?  Why are they all the rage these days?
Ok, here is why every teacher should try out task cards to see if they work for your classroom. 
1.  Instead of a long worksheet full of 15-20 problems that looks overwhelming, you can give each student, one question at a time, at the level that you think the student needs to work on at that moment.  Giving students cards that are at their level depends on how the task cards you use are designed.  I recommend making a different border on each card so that you know immediately by looking at the card what the difficulty level is.  (See my picture on the right.)
2.   You can even have students working on different skills or different units at the same time.  On my cards, I put a unique icon that holds the card number.  (See the picture at the top of this post.)
Using my style of task card (you can make your own, or you can see mine here!), you can pick up a random card, know immediately what the task card set it belongs to (from the icon) and what difficulty level it is (from the border)
3) You can use the task cards in any flash card game or review game.   The randomness of a deck of cards makes it fun.  You can customize the deck ahead of time depending on what your particular class needs.
4) You can set up “stations” with the cards, posting them around the room and have students go around the room with clipboards or their notebooks to answer them.  This really helps students who need to move and is way more fun than sitting and answer the same questions on a long sheet of paper, sitting down.
5)  You can use them as customized exit tickets.  Use them at the end of each class to assess student learning.
6)  You can use them as fun challenges for early finishers!  Some students always finish their other work early and end up distracting their classmates.  Give them a challenging card and extend their learning time (and save their classmates too.)
OK, have I convinced you to give task cards a try?  Here’s how to setup your task card set.
Step 1: Create your own task cards or purchase pre-made ones online.  I make mine on Powerpoint.  I change the “slide” size to 11 x 8.5.  I create my borders, icons, and template in Illustrator first.  Mine are 4 inches by 5.5 inches.  
Step 2: Print out on card stock.

Step 3: Laminate!  (You could skip this step and just cut the card stock, but the cards will get handled a lot and may not last as long.)  Some schools have a laminator you can use.  For home, I bought the Scotch Thermal Laminator 2 Roller System (TL901) on Amazon at a great price, plus these laminator sleeves: Scotch Thermal Laminating Pouches 8.9 x 11.4 Inches 3 mil, 100-Pack (TP3854-100).  I use it for my task cards and I use it to laminate some of my preschool son’s artwork that I want to save. 🙂

Step 4: Cut the whole sheet into individual cards!  I like using this Paper Cutter to get straight lines, fast.
After you have all the cards cut, you can organize them into sets based on difficulty, based on unit, or anyway you want!

Optional Organization Tip!
I like to put the cards in groups ahead of time.  I punch holes in them and use colored binder rings to label group sets.  I can assign a color set to a particular student group!

If you would like to check out my task cards, I have several for chemistry and biology teachers:

My task card sets all include:
A Teacher Master Packet with all 60 Questions and Answers
A Student Packet you can give your students to take home for extra practice
An editable template you can use to make your own task cards using my templates
60 Task Cards with Questions/Tasks
60 Task Cards with Questions and Answers on the Back
Printing Instructions

Full Disclosure: If you click on the laminator links and choose to buy, I get a small advertising bonus.  Which I will probably spend on more laminator sleeves and cardstock and maybe a hot chocolate at Starbucks. 🙂

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